Stu Totham

CEO Update for Members

04.06.18 09:50

Dear Members

Now that I’ve settled into the role of AFLNT CEO over the past couple of months, and along with the receipt of the NT Thunder strategic review, I thought it was timely to check in and give you an update.

Firstly, I want to thank you for your support in 2018 – Thunder’s 10th year, and for committing as a member of our Club. Our membership so far in 2018 has exceed 1,100, the highest membership number since the club’s inaugural season in 2009.

We’re almost at the halfway point of the NEAFL season, and the team is holding its own, with some strong performances despite being a little inconsistent. With over 20 changes to the squad from last year, this is not unusual as the team continues to find their feet and gel, and with six of our last eight games at home, we expect a strong finish to the season.

The ThunderW VFL W team are flying, though it’s still only early days we’re very pleased with how our venture into the VFL Women’s competition is going and for the opportunities to see our local players play in what is widely regarded as the best state-based women’s league.

You may recall towards the end of last year we engaged the services of Bastion EBA to conduct an independent strategic review of NT Thunder, the first since the club’s inception.

The team at Bastion EBA came to Darwin on a number of occasions to talk to various stakeholders and understand the current sentiment, effectiveness and impact of elite footballing pathways in the NT. They were also tasked with identifying the strategic opportunities available to the club, that we should be investigating in order to achieve the club’s desired high performance, community, participation and commercial outcomes.

Via Bastion EBA’s trips to the Northern Territory, there were face to face meetings, supplemented by phone interviews, which led to feedback being garnered from over 40 key stakeholders to complete the strategic assessment. All had clear and tangible ties to the club and bought into the process willingly.

I’d like to share with you the recommendations Bastion EBA published in the final report that the AFLNT Executive have adopted. Most pleasingly, many of these are areas that had already been identified and addressed through our own strategic planning process. They are areas that we are investing time, money and energy into now and provide reassurance that we’re on the right track in 2017 to see us through to 2020.

Elite Pathways

o Develop high performance teams based around homegrown Territory players;

o Create a quality and structured career path to the AFL which will increase the number of male and female NT players in the AFL; and

o Develop a reputation for excellence within the NT for developing athletes, umpires and administration.

Community Development

o For the wellbeing of Indigenous communities, assist in aspiring young Indigenous people to participate in sport; and

o Develop a reputation for excellence within the NT for our ability to engage regional areas.

Create a Club Environment

o Play an exciting “Territory brand” of football;

o Consistently complete in finals and grand finals;

o Use good corporate governance and management practices to ensure the Club is financially sustainable and prosperous to ensure its long-term viability; and

o Achieve widespread community support in the NT.

Communications Strategy

o A dedicated resource supported by AFL Head Office and the AFLNT CEO to be accountable for ensuring that a strong communications strategy with the NT football community is implemented.

The Thunder Brand

o Keep developing strong brand equity within the Indigenous communities using the standalone Thunder brand (and rebranded NT Thunder Academy structure), and on occasion wear the old strip as a heritage jumper.

Separation from AFLNT

o The structure remains as is, that there is no evidence to suggest that the time, money and resource required would justify Thunder being a separate entity to AFLNT; and

o Where applicable and beneficial, an element of separation between the functions of AFLNT and Thunder should remain.

Broader NT Perception

o Continue to fixture games in Alice Springs, and recruit local players through the Redtails Football Club program, as well as ensuring the AFLNT CEO and AFLNT Executive are visible representatives and continue to support football in NT communities.

Thunder Player Experience

o Do the small things right and create an environment that players strive to be part of and that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the NT.

Other notable findings of the report were

o Whilst there is some dissatisfaction and angst in some sections of the NT football community, the Thunder model is not broken;

o Objectives need to reset (support by the key recommendation shown above);

o Relationships with NTFL Clubs needs attention; and

o Thunder brand should be retained.

While the report, understandably highlights areas of improvement, it is important to note and acknowledge that a strong foundation has been laid.

From the summary, it says; “The positive impact the Thunder program and football more broadly has on the wider NT community became apparent in many instances through the research and consultation phases of this project”.

Numerous players spoke glowingly about their Thunder experience, both on and off the field providing strong references to it being considered by them as a ‘Club’ and one that they have great pride in and love playing for.”

I hope this has provided you with some insight and leaves you with plenty of reasons to be a proud NT Thunder member and assures you that we are all focused on making Thunder the best it can be.

Finally, don’t forget our Team of The Decade Ball on Saturday 23 June 2018, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best in our club’s proud 10-year history. When I reflect on all that’s happened over the past decade, it’s hard to believe we are 10 years in already. But it’s with thanks to the hard work of a lot of people and the players that we have made it!

I look forward to reliving many entertaining memories and sharing our stories from our first 10 seasons. I hope you will join us, and consider buying a ticket for Thunder’s night of nights.

If you’re after more information you can find it HERE

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to send it through to where we can get back to you.

See you at the footy and Go Thunder!